Posts Tagged ‘Prog’

2018’s Unheavenly Creatures, (or to give it its full title ‘Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures’) is modern prog masters Coheed And Cambria’s  9th full-length studio album. It follows up from their 2015 record The Color Before The Sun, which departed from their Amory Wars concept album series, and Unheavenly Creatures sees the band return once more to their sci-fi comic book concept.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been following the story, which is already out of order with various prequels and side stories, as the songs are that catchy anyway you don’t have to follow the story as closely as some other concept albums. It’s a nice touch if you are paying attention, but the band have always been more than just a story, they aren’t a gimmick band and the music, vocals and sound have always been just as noteworthy as the concept.

Musically; The Color Before The Sun was also a bit of an evolution which saw some new territories covered, with big stadium rock riffs and bubblegum melodies. Unheavenly Creatures incorporates parts of that, while also leaning more on the style the band were going for on the two Good Apollo albums from 2005 and 2007.

The vocals, the production and lead guitars are all superb and continue the long tradition of interesting and memorable songs that are easy on the ear, but come across as progressive when you look at them more closely. The band have all the hooks of the catchiest pop punk bands, all the solos of the catchiest NWOBHM guitar masters and an ear for production that always makes them sound humongous. This album is no exception. Just listen to the powerful opener ‘The Dark Sentencer,’ when Claudio sings ‘‘Kiss your lover with that filthy mouth you fucking monster’’ you just want to scream along with it like you’re on top of a cliff in the November Rain video.

That being said, its not an instant album, in fact it is 79 minutes long, so there is quite a lot to get through and it can take a lot of spins to really sink your teeth in to, but there is a lot to love if you are willing to give it the time.

For a band who, in my opinion, haven’t released a bad album yet, it can be quite hard to make a recommendation to an outsider. That being said, the general public would seem to suggest Year Of The Black Rainbow and The Afterman Descension from 2010 and 2013 respectively are the band’s least impactful works, whereas the public would advise In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth 3 and the lengthily titled Good Apollo, Tonight I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness (commonly just called ‘4’ or ‘Good Apollo’ for ease)  are the ones to check out first… at this point I can’t really imagine not loving a Coheed album, but just in case, I would say don’t pick this as your first one. Pick up 3, 4 and Afterman Ascension at a minimum before getting this one.    

Once you are an established fan though; this is not an album you want to miss. Some of these choruses will bounce around your head for days. Some of the guitar lines are as memorable as the average band’s choruses. The first four songs alone have more memorable moments than most albums.  In fact, take any four songs in a row, the first four, the last four, any four in between. Even the slower moments like ‘Queen Of The Dark’ pop on this. If you want to dip your toes in, some of the highlights include ‘True Ugly,’ ‘All On Fire,’ ‘Toys,’ and ‘Unheavenly Creatures.’

Queensrÿche have been on a hell of a hot streak since they got former Crimson Glory frontman Todd La Torre in and started a band called Rising West, playing material from Queensrÿche’s first EP and first 4 albums, following the departure of their long time legendary singer Geoff Tate.

When they changed their name from Rising West back to Queensrÿche, and released their self-titled album in 2013, (with great tracks like ‘Where Dreams Go To Die,’ ‘Redemption’ and ‘Vindication’), it was an utterly excellent batch of material and the ensuing live shows saw the band energised and revitalised in one of the best late-career renaissances in the history of Metal (up there with the likes of Kreator and Accept for later-year triumphs). The following album Condition Human was a strong follow-up that kept up the quality.

As you can imagine, their third album since this revitalisation, 2019’s The Verdict, is my most anticipated album of this year. When they dropped the pre-release tracks, such as ‘Man The Machine,’ ‘Dark Revierie’ and ‘Blood Of The Levant’ it was every bit as good, if not better, than Condition Human’s pre-release tracks like the excellent ‘Arrow Of Time’ and ‘Hellfire.’

With all these expectations I had built up in my head, I was fearful I had built it up too much and set myself up for disappointment.

After having listened to it both via streaming while I waited for the postman, and on CD repeatedly after delivery, I am happy to inform you that not only is it not a disappointment, but rather it is the best Toddryche album to date. Arguably the band’s best album in a very long time at all, Todd or no Todd.

Even from myself, who doesn’t dislike any Queensrÿche album, (even the controversial ones), this ranks easily in the top half of their discography, top quarter even! I hate statements like “it’s the band’s best album since…’’ but in this case, it really feels true.

The production, (once again by ‘Zeuss’) is brilliant. All instruments are clear and distinct, you can hear the bass at all times, you can separate each guitar from each-other and the drums sound fat and powerful. Speaking of drums; Now that singer Todd La Torre is also playing drums this time around as well as his singing duties while classic drummer Scott Rockenfield is on paternity leave, you also get some drum styles you don’t usually hear on a Queensrÿche album. (Have a quick listen to ‘Launder The Conscience’ and ‘Light Years’ and listen to the beats to see what I mean).

The press prior to this saw Whip telling everyone that this was their heaviest and most progressive album in a while. Usually statements like that are always wrong. Strangely though, again, in this case, it really feels true.

There are some nice heavy moments on here; such as the aforementioned pre-released tracks, ‘Man The Machine and ‘Blood Of The Levant’ as well the very crunchy ‘Inner Unrest’ amonst others, and furthermore, there are some great proggy moments; such as ‘Bent,’ ‘Portrait’ and ‘Inside Out.’ There’s moments that recall the middle-eastern vibes of their American Soldier and Tribe albums, there’s some of the bass-driven textured stuff like their underrated Operation Mindcrime 2 album, and there’s some of the trippy expansive stuff reminiscent of their Promised Land album.

As well as the heavy and proggy stuff, there is just loads of great, catchy, accessible Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal material that has been the core thing tying all of the band’s albums together to date. You can hear bits that sound like the last two albums, like calssic material such as Rage For Order and all sorts of new things as well.

There’s so much great bass guitar parts and lots of space for Todd to show off his impressive vocal range. Album upon album he pushes it further, showing off more and more styles and becoming more of his own thing and moving away from the Geoff Tate style, but still staying close enough that it always sounds quintessentially Queensrÿche. (Take that vocal style and mix it with those really distinctive guitar leads, and you’ve got Queensrÿche in a bottle.)

Overall; its yet another strong Queensrÿche album, but more than that, it is an interesting album, with a strong production, a great range of material, and some of their honestly best material in years, even if they have already been on a very strong run.

emperor_of_sand_coverAtlanta Prog Metal legends Mastodon return in 2017 with their seventh proper full-length studio album, Emperor Of Sand. Speaking of returns; frequent collaborator Scott Kelly returns for yet another guest vocal performance and producer Brendan O’Brian returns as well, having last done their fourth album, the 2009 masterpiece, Crack The Skye. Also returning is the concept-album format. Leviathan, Blood Mountain and Crack The Skye had all been story-driven concept albums that also served as a metaphor for the band’s lives and Emperor Of Sand continues that tradition after a break into more traditional territories with The Hunter and Once More Round The Sun.

The concept on this record is of a man being handed down a curse/death sentence and wandering the sands of the desert to his ultimate death and or salvation. The band haven’t been shy in interviews of describing the fact that story serves as a metaphor for cancer and especially guitarist Bill Kelliher’s mother’s death from brain cancer. There’s even a dedication to her cleverly hidden in the artwork on one of the creature’s shields.

When you get told that information before hand, you immediately analyze the lyrics for clues. Is this about a biopsy? Is this about a scan? Does this represent the prognosis? Is this about the stages of grief? Does this represent the loss of cognitive function associated with illnesses of the brain? Is this line about a donation? Is this one about a family dispute? Does this character represent the doctor? Does this one represent cancer itself? …We do know for sure from the documentary that sand represents time. Sometimes it isn’t even so hidden at all; the album ends with the line ‘Its right in front of me, your malignancy.’ It all gives the album such a layer of depth, not unlike Crack The Skye had with Brann’s family tragedy. It feels a bit distasteful going into it so much, but then again if they didn’t want us to it wouldn’t have been released and promoted in such a way as to make it so possible.

Background aside, the main thing that sticks out about this album is the lead guitar. Now, Mastadon have always been musical virtuosos, innovators and masters of distilling broad and extreme influences into a cohesive singular whole, but still, even when we get used to excellence from the musicians, the guitars here are especially strong. There are some really stand up and take notice leads, some very crack a smile solos and some screw up your face and nod riffs on here.

It really is a guitar-centric record. Even with the story, Brann’s superhero drumming, all the bonus keyboards and studio touches, and the team approach to vocals… man those guitarists sure are on damn fine form here.

In terms of direction; this one seems to be an attempt to merge the Crack The Skye formula into the most mainstream moments of the most recent two albums. The first half of the album is all more sing-along, catchy, easily accessible stuff, and the second half drops down the prog. Tracks like ‘Show Yourself’ and ‘Precious Stones’ have radio appeal, then tracks like the magnificent album closer ‘Jaguar God’ are a trippy journey through a dozen speeds, tones and moods with bonkers Robert Fripp-esque guitar noodling meeting metal meeting acoustic meeting big beautiful wailing solos. The middle of ‘Clandestiny’ sounds like it could be on a Yes or Genesis record, something they’ve always talked about but I’ve never heard so litterally before.

With Emperor Of Sand it feels like they’ve taken all the lessons they’ve learned with big vocal melodys, hit appeal and targeting a wider audience, and applied it to the slow-burn, grower, hear something new on every listen nature of Crack The Skye. It doesn’t sound anything like that record, but the second half has the same spirit, ethos or vibe as it did. Its all about the repeat listens, the new discoveries, the changing attitudes. I mean, it doesn’t sound like my favourite album, Leviathan, and that is always an adjustment, but when you get over it, like you do every new release you realize that the band can still be amazing even when they are doing a different style.

On first listen, I wasn’t keen on this album, the next time I wasn’t sure, I felt a bit negatively about this but I was sure one more listen would prove whether there was something good going on here and then from there it built and built for me until I was a bit positive to satisfied and now I’m very impressed. Its got big ideas, its got big ambitions, and its undeniably Mastodon. Some of these songs feel one way, then they hit the halfway mark and morph into something else. There’s all these neat subtle touches in the background (listen in depth to ‘Steam Breather’). There’s such badass little drum parts (hey there, Ancient Kingdom’s midsection!). There’s such sticky vocal parts. From all the singers. They’re working together even better than before, blending better. Its a team approach to vocals and it works really well. Then you get all the different takes on the album. Sit there with the lyric book in an empty room and the album feels one way, listen to it on a sunny walk and its very different again. Listen concentrating on one instrument and it feels like a different record than concentrating on another, or the vocals.

For me; my favourite tracks would have to be ‘Roots Remain,’ especially towards its end which has a Cysquatch feel to it, as well as aforementioned album highlight ‘Jaguar God’ and the most Remission-like track ‘Andromeda’ with its jagged caustic riffs and awesome guest vocals from Brutal Truth’s Kevin Sharp… but hey, if the weather improves I can see it being the singles ‘Show Yourself’ and ‘Sultans Curse.’ Pretty great for an album I initially had a negative impression of, ey?

A grower. An exceeder of expectations. A Mastodon album.

Kingcrimsonprog’s Albums Of The Year 2015

Posted: December 21, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve said it a lot this year, but its been a very good year for music to my tastes!

1. Parkway Drive – Ire

What an album! Crushing beatdowns, catchy fun memorable sing-alongs, twin guitar widdly joy, it’s a surprising and bold move from a band who already perfected their formula, but now seem somehow even better. I didn’t even fully expect it to be my AOTY but it just grew on me and grew on me and grew on me. Monumental!

Highlight moments: The music, vocal delivery and lyrics of the part ‘Tell me motherfucker how the hell do you sleep at night’ as well as ‘Now snap your neck to this’ and ‘…and we all go to heaven in a little row boat.’

2. Bring Me The Horizon – That’s The Spirit

Chocked full of catchy and memorable moments that I’ll remember for years, this album sees the band further distance themselves from the past but in an organic and logical way. This thing just sticks in your head. Its masterful.
Its surprising how well Ollie can sing nowadays. Also, I don’t care if they’re childish, the lyrics to ‘Throne’ are awesome.

Highlight moments: The whole of the songs ‘Doomed’ and ‘Throne.’

3. Clutch – Psychic Warfare

“Oh… I hope Clutch stay focused after Earth Rocker” I found myself thinking…. ‘av some of that Psychic Warfare replied as it slapped me in the chops with exactly what I wanted. Razor sharp, not a wasted second, just as good as always but never-been-tighter focused, Psychic Warfare is the right move at the right time and I hope it pays off for the band like the last one did.

Highlight moments: The music, vocal delivery and lyrics of the part ‘It goes against my catholic upbringing, I admit it…’

 

4. Fear Factory – Genexus

Their best, most exciting release in years. The very opposite of bland; Genexus just gets everything right and perfectly blends everything the band do, creating a real career highlight, possibly their second or third best ever!

Highlight moments: The first few seconds of ‘Soul Hacker’ smashing you in the face.

 

5. Tesseract – Polaris
I was always going to be harsh on this because I loved their previous singer Ashe O’Harra so much, and because Altered State is a genuine masterpiece and in my eyes one of the best albums of the last decade. Even with the weight of those unreasonable expectations Tesseract still managed to make an album this good. That’s talent!

Highlight moment: The chorus to ‘Hexes.’

 

6. Coheed & Cambria – The Color Before The Sun

Is it just me or is the guitar to the verse in ‘Island’ straight off of Permission To Land? What’s all that about? Anyway…dropping the sci-fi doesn’t seem to have harmed the band one bit… As usual, if Coheed release an album its one of the best albums anyone released that year.

Highlight moments: The music, vocal delivery and lyrics of the part ‘Where’s My Life-saver When I’m Screaming Danger’ and the drums to ‘The Audience’ as well as the lyric ‘And if there’s one good thing that comes from my away it’s that you won’t be anything like me, and so better for it you will be’ and the music to the intro of ‘You’ve Got Spirit, Kid.’

7. Queensryche – Condition Human

Was Toddryche’s debut a fluke? Was it fuck!

Highlight moment: ‘The Arrow Of Time’ in its entirety, the guitar solo In ‘Bulletproof’ and the ending to the title-track.

 

 

8. Baroness – Purple

Maybe not as earth-shattering and game changing as its predecessor Yellow&Green (and how could it be, reasonably?), but Baroness’ attempt to create a better version of Mastodon’s Once More Round The Sun is a damn strong album, those Lizzy-esque guitars make me weak at the knees!

Its maybe a bit unfairly placed seeing as how recent it was, so I’ve not listened to it anywhere near as much as the others on the list, but I was always disappointed that Mudvayne’s self titled album missed many AOTY lists due to its late-in-the-year release, so I won’t let that happen here.

Highlight moment: The entire song ‘If I Have To Wake Up (Would You Stop The Rain?)’ in every way.

 

9. Helloween – My God Given Right

Its arguably just another Helloween album… so in my eyes that means its an absolute gem! All Hail the pumpkins, as they say in Germany (I assume).

This makes up for their previous album missing out on my AOTY list when I got it too late.

Highlight moment: Deris’ vocal performance on ‘If God Loves Rock N Roll’

 


10. Periphery – Juggernaut Alpha

I still don’t feel like I’ve fully gotten into this album, plummed all its depths, or really had it click with me yet, but the fact that its still here shows you how good it is. I haven’t researched the concept behind it, or seen songs live and both of those things always make me like an album more so you definitely haven’t heard the last from me on this! This, this weird jazzy, proggy, deathy, emoey, unpredictable melting pot. What, me wearing a Periphery t-shirt to work regularly… never! (shifty eyes).

Highlight moments: The music and vocal delivery of the parts ‘As the water beats upon the window turn the sad song up on the radio” and “Fuck me I am dying for sleep!”

I couldn’t fit some interesting records like F5DP and Lamb Of God’s newest efforts (or Periphery’s other album from this year, two-album-releasing blaggards!), and I haven’t even heard some pretty important ones like Maiden, Saxon and Faith No More’s latest so its not maybe what the average listener’s Top 10 may be… but this is my blog and I’m me, so you didn’t come here to ask what I thought other people’s top 10 might be (presumably).

Also, I thought my number 1 would be Rishloo’s latest but they changed the official release date to its early pre-release date of December 2014 so it didn’t technically come out this year. I was torn over whether to include it anyway or not. So, I’ll retroactively name it my number 1 of last year, because …that sort of thing totally matters to anyone, obviously.

What surprised me was that The Libertines and The Fratellis both had new albums and neither made my Top 10. The Libertines are one of my favourite ever bands and I was an absolute obsessive at one point on all the forums and fansites listening to every single demo, scratch track and live bootleg ever, I’ve been a member of bands that cover their songs, I’ve had a poster of theirs on my wall for years (until this year when I finally moved into my I’m-an-adult apartment with my partner, as a matter of fact) but yeah, this new album didn’t make the top… guess the rest of the years releases were just too good. You’re ok, Anthems Of The Doomed Youth, but you aint no Psychic Warfare! …The Fratellis is trickier, as I think I’ve listened to it more than most of my Top 10, and I think really it might have a good claim to edge Periphery out but the choruses of its two best songs are soooo good they elevate the album as a whole crazily high. Still… ‘(Imposters) Little By Little’ is a song that I’ll never grow tired of. Such a difficult choice.

Top 10s of the year are just top 10s of new releases though….and I didn’t just spend the year listening to new releases…. My actual yearly top 10 would have Stairway To Fairyland, Shout At The Devil, Out Of The Cellar & Detonator, Smash, and several other non-2015 releases in it. I mean, I spent almost the entire spring and summer listening to Slipknot’s newest album almost every day on the way to work.

Hey but at least I’m not broke and can afford some new releases, last year I was so broke I only bought about four new releases and couldn’t make a top 10 list. Anyway, for further reading see my previous year end articles:

2014
2013
2012
2011

A Week of Tull.

Posted: April 4, 2015 by kingcrimsonprog in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I decided a few days ago to finally start reading the Jethro Tull book I received for Christmas as a gift two Christmases ago. To accompany this reading I also decided to listen to every Jethro Tull studio album (as well as a few compilations and a few live albums). I ended up listening to 350 Tull songs in a row, uninterrupted by any other music.

I was going to post a review of each album in turn, but I’m short on time and patience. However I still have some things to say on the matter, and so I’ve opted to post this general week of Tull blog.

So, here is a list of how my mind divides the Tull catalogue, some personal opinions on them, and a few favourite songs. Its not a review, its not a history, its just some assorted quick fire thoughts that my tired brain is leaking after such a big Tull binge.

First off, I don’t really like their debut album as much as what was to follow. I don’t care for Blues or Jazz as much as the average Prog fan, so I guess that’s no surprise. Still, even with it not being as good as what was to come, there’s still some great moments on this album. I really like the album opener for example.
Next up; comes what I’d call the indisputable period parts 1, 2, 3 and 4. Together, all these albums are near flawless and form the largest part of what I think about when I say I like Jethro Tull. The entire Indisputable Period starts with Stand Up and ends after Broadsword And The Beast. The period is so-named because I never wonder if these albums are good, if I still like them, or if anything from them should be included on a compilation or playlist…. this period is ALL excellent in my opinion.

Indisputable Period Part 1, is from Stand Up to Thick As A Brick. This was the early, exuberant, anything goes phase. There’s a sense of enthusiasm and more or less no weak tracks. I could do without the bells/drum solo part on ‘Thick As A Brick Prt 2’ but otherwise its arguably the best album ever written. Even all the B-sides and outtakes from this period are golden, as are the non-album singles. I should really count the compilation Living In The Past as part of this. I usually skip the on-other-albums songs such as ‘Locomotive Breath’ and treat this as an actual album rather than a compilation. I particularly love ‘Up The Pool’ and ‘Sweet Dream.’

Indisputable Period Part 2 I consider from A Passion Play up to and including Too Old To Rock And Roll Too Young To Die. The reason I’ve made this a mental period is partly the association of film projects as well as the mixed fan reactions. I think this period is equally as strong as the previous one, and am not one of the crowd who think Warchild is too bitty or Minstrel In The Gallery is weak. No sir. Some of my favourite ever Tull songs come from this red hot run of classics. ‘Queen And Country,’ ‘Sea Lion,’ ‘Cold Wind To Valhalla,’ and ‘Quiz Quid’ are all amazing and should be looked at as equal to the classic likes of ‘Aqualung’ ‘Lifes A Long Song,’ ‘Locomotive Breath,’ and ‘My God.’
Moreover, the bonus tracks ‘Paradise Steakhouse’ and ‘Rainbow Blues’ are arguably my two favourite Tull songs. Absolute gems. And ‘Minstrel In The Gallery’ is such a banging hard rock song, I’d love to hear someone heavy cover it.

I wish the Mother England Reverie section of Baker Street Muse was repeated more often. Its so big and catchy and exciting but it comes and goes in passing and you never get enough. Its like someone rubbing chocolate across your tongue when you weren’t looking… you go ‘oooh, chocolate!’ but then its gone, and you feel like you’d like to eat some chocolate. (Can you tell its Easter Saturday?)

I will admit that the sound effects on War Child now get skipped (cup of tea making, bombs falling etc) as outside of my big prog phase I’ve lost a little patience, but the music is still great. I’ve become even more fond of Too Old To Rock N Roll than I used to be. I’ll always remember disliking it the first time I heard it because I was not in a receptive mood due to being freezing cold. Its grown on me a lot. ‘Big Dipper’ is great fun, as is ‘Taxi Grab’ and I like the story. Its worth watching the film from the era on Youtube.

I think the only song I don’t like from this whole era is “From A Deabeat To An Old Greaser” but that’s just personal taste… its too slow, and a bit depressing. A momentum killer. I’dve preferred one more hard rock song instead but that’s just me. I know Minstrel didn’t have a film project, so you may disagree with me on the era classification, but there’s the early run, and the folk run, and these nice prog albums fit in the middle. Oh, and seriously, how good is “Only Solitaire” ? Lyrically, musically, vocally, this is just so good.

Don’t let that one flaw throw you off though, its such a solid, interesting and diverse series of songs. Bizarre guitar lines, odd rhythms, structures that defy expectations. Its such an interesting set of records to listen to and pay attention to and listen to all the little bonkers decisions and sparks of genius.

Indisputable Period Part 3, for me, is the folk trio of Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses and Storm Watch. Some people act as if these were acoustic albums (as if Aqualung, Stand Up and Minstrel In The Gallery weren’t chocked full of acoustic parts). These three albums are more or less pure perfection. The one thing that makes them even extra good is confidence and consistency. I think they’re also lighter, and more fun. Just listen to ‘The Mouse Police Never Sleeps,’ ‘Something’s On The Move’ and ‘Hunting Girl.’ These songs are just such fun. Then when you mix in the nice Double Kick work on ‘Heavy Horses’ and the aforementioned ‘Hunting Girl’ and the big riffing in ‘No Lullabye’ and ‘Orion’ its all just so brain teasingly perfect.

The live albums from this period, Live At Madison Square Garden and the classic Bursting Out are some of the best in Rock history in my humble opinion. The performances and production take the already magnificent material from all 3 parts of the Indisputable Period, and multiplies them tenfold. The riffs are heavier, the drums are more energetic, the singing is bigger and more impressive.

Ending the Indisputable Period are the albums A and Broadsword In The Beast. Some people think A doesn’t count, or is poor. Not Me. I can’t get enough. Who doesn’t like ‘Black Sunday’ ?  and ‘Flyingdale Flyer’ is tremendous fun. On Broadsword, I’d like to especially highlight ‘Flying Colours’ and the still-relevant “Fallen On Hard Times” …also one of the band’s best ever songs. Bonus tracks from this period are brilliant too.

Sure there are synths, but its still all gravy. Its not Power Windows Rush, its Moving Pictures Rush.
Under Wraps follows. I’m not a fan. I love ‘Under Wraps 2” but as an album it doesn’t float my boat. I try a lot to like this the same, especially since Martin Barre likes it so much, but somehow its arguably the worst Tull album. I’d like to like it just to be contrary, but I can’t. Its such a loner it doesn’t even fit in one of the periods.
The next period is what I’d call the Dire Straits Period. That’s Crest Of A Knave, Rock Island and Catfish Rising. I call it this because, well, just listen to Ian’s voice. These albums have heavier guitars, making them better for me, and stiff drums, making them weaker for me. I like a lot of the singles from this period. ‘This Is Not Love’ (a song about wanking) and ‘Kissing Willie’ may be tasteless in a way, but the guitars make me smile. Also, ‘Budapest’ is great. You know, the thing with these albums not being perfect like the Undisputable Period however, is not down to stylistic shifts. Its not Ian’s new voice, its not 80s synth sounds and its not the non-jam style of recordings. Its just that the songwriting isn’t as flawless. There’s now filler. There’s now saminess. This is the House Of Blue Light/Battle Rages On phenomenon. When I first got into the band, I didn’t like this period at all. Now I’ve actually came to like it a lot. I can’t use the word ‘perfect’ but I can use the words ‘pretty good.’ If I wasn’t comparing them to perfect albums, then these would really be even more satisfactory. I think a playlist of the highlights from this period would make a damn high quality listen. Some fans (like my 2008 self) ignore this period, and act like ‘Seal Driver’ was the last good Tull song, but just tell that to ‘Doctor To My Disease,’ ‘Thinking Round Corners’ and ‘Sparrow On The Schoolyard Wall.’ (Oh, and why does everyone say Catfish’ is a return to the Blues of This Was… it is so not, as far as I can hear. It is exactly the same Dire Straits-Tull collision of Rock Island and ‘Knave to these ears).


The final period is the trio of Roots To Branches, Dot Com and The Jethro Tull Christmas Album. Or maybe not the Xmas album, its confusing because it has rerecordings of existing Tull songs on it.

This period is a bit more proggy and adventurous, while retaining the heavy guitar. The drums are more live though, and it just feels a little bigger. The albums are perhaps overlong, and too soft, but there is some seriously strong material here. I can imagine Tool or Dream Theater covering it. I used to ignore these albums, but on this relistening I wonder why, there is some seriously exciting bombastic material on here.

Just listen:

Oh, and I also listened to Ian Anderson’s Thick As A Brick 2. I’ve already talked about it extensively though, so I’ll just say I still feel the same.

The main thing I’d like to discuss however, is how often do Tull and Ian mention jam. Jam, bread and jam, jam sarnies, jampots. I never noticed this 40 year jam fandom. Listening to it all in one go though, there’s more mentions of jam than your average discography.

Anyway… I’ll just summarize. No Jethro Tull album is devoid of good music, not even the ones I used to dislike. Stand Up through to Broadsword’ is some of the world’s best ever music, especially the live albums. A is underrated. The band’s offcuts are as good as their official releases. Most of all, I’ve really come to appreciate the post-Broadsword stuff now. You don’t get the 99% brilliant ratio, sure, and the vocals and production make it a bit different in atmosphere, but it is far from poor.

Looking at the catalogue as a whole too, man, what an endless supply of creativity, what consistently entertaining lyrics. I don’t think Jethro Tull will ever slip from my list of favourite bands. If you like the idea of the band, but are short on cash, I’d highlight the following as especially necessary: Stand Up, Aqualung, Thick As A Brick, A Passion Play, Minstrel In The Gallery, Broadsword And The Beast.  I’d say it would feel absolutely impossible to give up on those albums, and missing out on them is missing out big. Furthermore I’d add, if you want to get into the band, my top pic is to get Bursting Out first. Bursting Out is some otherworldly brilliance, the like of Pantera 101 Proof and Judas Priest Unleashed In The East.

Rishloo - Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth

Rishloo – Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth

Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth is the crowd-funded reunion album from the incredible Seattle Progressive band Rishloo. Its their fourth full-length album overall and sees the band back together now that singer Andrew Mailloux has returned to the fold and the other bandmembers changed their separate crowd-funded new instrumental band The Ghost Apparatus back into Rishloo. Its been an interesting wait as a fan, but I won’t bury the lead… that wait was well worth it!

Consisting of just eight tracks with no intros, outros or hidden bonuses, this is the bands most succinct and concise offering to date, but you can file that under fat-free and lean rather than skimping on extras.

Stylistically; if you haven’t heard the band before, they are often compared to bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Coheed & Cambria, The Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Soen, Dredg, Fair To Midland, Jurojin, Cog, Karnivool, Circe, The Mayan Factor and others. No single comparison there really does justice to what you can actually expect, but if you understand the sort of common theme between all of those bands you can at least expect the right ballpark. On top of that, Rishloo are also constantly developing and evolving, and no two of their albums sound that much alike because they progress and change over time (while always retaining a certain core identity where you can still tell its them straight away) so even their own catalogue doesn’t necessarily train you for what to expect here. This album is stylistically a million miles from their 2004 debut Terras Fames, but in a way that makes sense and feels logical.

In that spirit, Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth is no simple retreading of their back catalogue, nor any attempt to sound like someone else. On this album Rishloo sound like nobody but Rishloo. Even the previous Tool comparisons bounce limply off this album like wooden arrows off a tank. Hints is all you get, the rest is new. This record sees the band mix things up even more and explore different sounds, textures and combinations. Drew tries out new voices and styles he hasn’t used before, such as the deranged sounding heavy vocals in the middle of ‘Winslow.’ There are guitar styles a past fan wouldn’t expect. Things that only came up once on a previous album are given more time.

The rhythms are more disjointed and jarring. There’s even more playing in uncommon time signatures and switching between tempos; opener ‘The Great Rain Beatle’ is particularly jagged, its unhinged and yet hypnotic like some psychedelic nightmare and makes Mars Volta comparisons more understandable… its like the most jagged parts of ‘Scissorlips’ made into an entire song. So too is the jazzier single ‘Landmines’ in its heavier sections. Although that being said, towards the end from the guitar solo onwards that kicks into some beautiful, straightforward head-banging energy.

There are also more hints of classic ‘70s Progressive Rock here than there have been on previous albums, to the point where (deep and hidden) you get feelings of almost Tales Of Topographic Oceans era Yes sounds at some stages (such as the middle of ‘Dark Charade’), and the intro to ‘Salutations’ reminds me a little of Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey You’ and ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ updated through some Radiohead and Deftones filters. There’s also five-second bursts of King Crimson influence all over the place in spidery Fripp-esque guitar runs crammed in there every now and again by the underrated Dave Gillet. None of it is overt though, its subtle, bubbling under the surface. Hints.

Its difficult to pick album highlights in such a well-crafted, concise and consistent body of work; ‘Dark Charade’ for example has THAT riff, and afterwards kicks off into an exciting build-up that feels like the sequel to ‘Downhill’ off of the previous record and ‘Dead Rope Machine’ is just so unique, its like every song has its own identity and something completely singular to offer. Gun-to-my-head I’d have to recommend that you check out ‘Winslow’ (which people who followed the whole Ghost Apparatus period might recognize) and ‘Just A Ride’ as your tester-songs to see whether or not you’d like the album. Jesse’s drums on those two are particularly excellent. ‘Just A Ride’ is the absolute perfect ending to this roller-coaster of an album and features the defining lyrics of this whole saga. That said, the whole thing works so well as a single journey that I almost feel bad picking favourites.

There are some things you can always count on Rishloo for; Firstly – interesting, poetic, provocative, intriguing lyrics. Secondly – powerful, emotional, evocative vocal performances. There’s also always interesting, spiraling, unexpected music that will defy initial expectations but feel ‘right’ once you’re used to it. Furthermore you can count on a certain arty air of mystique and most of all, quality songwriting depth that means you never get sick of the tracks, they just get better and better with each listen. Considering all these aspects, this new album is no exception to the rule, no misstep and no weak one in the set. This album has it all; whimsy, brooding, passion, intensity, subtlety, power, aggression, chilled out moments, virtuosic moments and scaled-back serve-the-song-not-the-player moments. Its got a strong sense of diversity yet feels like one cohesive whole throughout and a single journey (or ‘ride’) from start to glorious finish.

If you are a fan of the band then you unquestionably need this satisfying grower of an album. That may be a bit of a redundant sentiment but it’s the absolute truth; I know that if you are an existing fan of the band then you probably crowd funded The Ghost Apparatus or pre-ordered the record already and got rewarded with early access downloads, so recommending it to you seems like preaching to the choir… but if you haven’t checked out the band yet, or were waiting for the reviews then by all means please do give this a chance. This album is just as good as their previous work and if you give it enough spins to reveal its subtleties and hidden depths you will be greatly rewarded.

Oh, and if you enjoy it make sure to go back and check out the rest of their records too!

*** Side note: If you are a regular reader of this blog and generally agree with most of my taste in music, or like any of the comparison-bands, you can consider checking out this band as a personal favour to me. That’s how much I recommend them! ***

Rishloo, my favourite band in the world, (suitable for fans of Tool, Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree, Coheed & Cambria, Cog, Amplifier, The Dear Hunter, The Mayan Factor, Soen etc.), have released a new song from their long awaited reunion album Living As Ghosts With Buildings As Teeth. I am a keen kickstarter contributor to this album, I have a Vinyl of their previous album Feathergun up on my wall as decoration, and I advise all my readers to give them a listen.

I haven’t been as excited about new material since Queensryche got together with Todd La Torre, that’s how big a deal this is.

Official KCP recommendations: Listen to this, encourage it, give it lots of views, get into the band, buy all their albums, go see them live.